#TrainingCampTour Day III: Trumbull

The Cadets, or the popular preferred football nomenclature “Hogs”, have won two straight state titles, but you would not know it stepping into camp as they have a chip on their shoulder.

A New-er Era

Four offensive linemen, six defensive starters, a two-time all-state wide receiver, and one very important running back are among the losses from 2014 for the 2015 St. Joseph Hogs of Trumbull. Lars Pedersen collected 3,923 receiving yards and 42 TD passes. He now goes to Cornell. Mufasha Abdul-Basir rushed for 5,630 yards (wow) and 59 TD (my goodness) in his career. Musfasha ran for 205 yards and a couple of scores in last December’s 37-7 romp over Ledyard in the CIAC Class M-Small championship. He is at Central.

You see, the Hogs had a similar problem before last season began. They won the 2013 CIAC Class M title game in a blizzard, 54-16 over Brookfield. They lost a guy in Jordan Vazzano who attempted 356 out of the team’s 359 passes for 3,065 yards. They also lost their leading tackler (Dylan Ryan) and sack-man Michael Konecny. However, the team swore that they would make their own mark as champions under a “new era”. And they obviously did.

How will this team fare? How can they give coach Joe Dellavecchia the 3-peat? It’s actually a pretty simple strategy. They are plotting a “new-er” era. I know what you are thinking: “this guy’s full of it.”

Oh yeah? Here is coach with the explanation: “The kids last year they had a saying “new era”. That’s how they believed that they were next. These guys, they are the next group up. I think they are calling them selves the new-new era or something. {I told them} It’s your opportunity to make your legacy.”

“Last year, we had Lars, Mufasha and we had a great line too, but this year we have new guys, but they ‘ve been working really hard and I think they could get the job done,” said running back Christian Trefz.

Trefz is the Hog in this latest group with the perhaps the biggest chip on his shoulder. He’s replacing Abdul-Basir. He has only collected 210 rushing yards in his career, but that is because he has only carried the rock 44 times (4.8 yards per carry).

“The next guy has got to pick up the slack,” declared Dellavecchia. “Christian Trefz is the next guy.
Great athlete, hard-running kid, very determined player and he plays hard all the time.”

This man has only carried the ball 44 times for St. Joseph. Is he really the guy that can step up in the absence of Mufasha Abdul-Basir?

Coach made a big move last year six games into the season: he shifted Christian’s twin brother Kevin from quarterback to wide-out, while inserting Cory Babineau as the starting signal-caller. The Babineau move paid immediate dividends as he tossed for over 950 yards and 13 TD. Coach wants the play selection to reflect a 50-50 split between rush and pass this season since they only threw it about 30% of the time last year. Cory should improve with 8 games of experience as the starter under his belt. The impact of Kevin’s switch should be felt this season as coach could use his speed at multiple skill positions and therefore enjoy some much-needed depth.

But still, to really back-up the claim that it is a new-er era in Trumbull, the Hogs have to have a sure thing. They do in linebacker Cam Ryan.

“He’s all over the field for us,” Dellavecchia stated proudly about Ryan. “The kid is a DI prospect and he can flat-out play.”

“We got a lot of new guys,” said Ryan. “It’s going to be a little bit new working off of them. Hopefully, they help me out getting tackles and i’ll help them open stuff up to.”

Cam Ryan led a St. Joseph defense that surrendered just 14 points per game in 2014. Can the Hogs do better in his senior year?

Ryan’s 147 tackles a year ago gave him a school record. That accolade certainly contributed to his all-state selection. Coach tells me that he has drawn interest from Ivy League schools. I was very impressed with Ryan’s ability to get to the ball on defense during passing drills, coupled with a natural talent for communicating clearly with his personnel group.

Cam Ryan is certainly a leader in a new-er era for the Hogs.

Meanwhile, just off Route 108 in neighboring Bridgeport…

…there is a spot that caters to all cadets of St. Joseph and is owned by a relative of SJ ’13 alum Jordan Vazzano, John Vazzano. His father is one of the Vazzano brothers and tells me that Jordan is enjoying URI because of the coach Jim Fleming’s sense of urgency to build a winning program. Vazzy’s offers Northern Italian cuisine and brick oven pizza.

Chicken San Diego…something that Hogs may be diving deep into before a big FCIAC tilt.

Here’s some background on food from Italia settentrionale (Northern Italy): because the south (where my family is from) enjoys a climate that is more suitable for the growing of tomatoes, their pasta sauce is obviously more red-based. Up North, there are some pretty heavy duty mountain ranges like the Alps and the foods may also have a French influence, so you will see more egg and cream-based dishes. I ordered a Chicken San Diego (sautéed chicken, penne pasta, broccoli, and sun-dried tomatoes accompanied by a wine/garlic sauce and parmesan cheese) to really capture the spirit of what Vazzy’s is all about. The tomatoes were fresh, cooked nice, and nicely diced. The garlic glaze grabbed a hold of the chicken. And I was a happy guy.

But… I was already sold when the basket of bread, fuzzy’s garlic bread, olives, and cherry peppers came out to open the meal!